Time Warner revamps its help desk

Time Warner Cable’s Columbus, Ohio, call centre a few years ago didn’t exactly have the best way to track trouble tickets.

“We used a telephone and a scratch pad,” says Bill Myers, network administrator at Time Warner in Columbus. He says that with frequent turnover in his department, it became more challenging to change passwords, administer new hires and terminations, and keep up with problems following software installations.

“Currently the (information systems) department is fairly small, and back in 1999 and 2000, we had no help desk support at all,” Myers explains.

The company division in late 1999 purchased software from Help Desk Technology Corp. The company’s flagship software, HelpStar, is designed for smaller companies, and for the 300 end users that needed support, it appeared to be a good fix.

The demand for help desk software grew as the 100 or so Time Warner sales service representatives depending on that call centre in central Ohio needed the system to help them with customer billing systems. And today, Myers and the six-person help desk (there are about a dozen in the entire IS department) support about 1,000 company employees and more than 12 locations.

Upgrading technology

Myers’ division of Time Warner decided to continue with the same product path and install HelpStar Version 8.0 this year, despite the product’s smaller feel.

“We heard that Remedy (now part of BMC Software Inc.) could be more robust and scale better, and we thought about looking at it, but HelpStar beat us to the punch,” Myers says. “If we needed a new feature in the past, they would usually work with us to get it, but the newer version has features we need anyway, like speed, stability and a Web interface.”

The software grew with Time Warner, Myers says, mostly due to its architecture. “The expandability of the software modules made it easier to keep moving with the product,” he says.

Also the product’s intuitive features made bringing new staff on board more manageable, he says.

“There are a lot of built-in reporting tools that tell you how many tickets we get, how to do ad hoc reporting, and so on,” Myers explains. “It really helps us optimize the time the staff spends on trouble ticketing.”

Still to come

New features in HelpStar Version 8.0 include a hyperlink-based interface, upgraded priority escalation capabilities, and a “suggested solutions” key and new analysis tools to help raise first-call resolution numbers. But Myers says Time Warner needs to adopt an asset management strategy to start.

The upgraded product includes an asset management software module that the company says lets administrators track IT equipment from requisition to retirement. It can also help IT administrators manage software license compliance and identify unused equipment.

Right now, Myers says Time Warner’s assets at that call centre are documented and stored in a separate database. He’d like to integrate that information into HelpStar.

“I think I will be able to do bar coding and asset tracking of that nature,” he says. “It would be good to be able to put an identifier on a PC or printer, and tag that into an inventory control system.”

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